Outcome:  A workforce confident and competent in assessing suicide risk and providing ongoing support to the suicidal person

Consisting of two one-day workshops the Confident and Competent training series provides a comprehensive suicide intervention training programme. Rather than a siloed approach to assessment and support strategies, this training programmes highlights the interconnection of the two and presents the two as part of the continuum of suicide care.


The two workshops are:

1.  Risky Business: The art of assessing suicide risk and imminent danger

2.  Custodians of Hope: Supporting the suicidal person

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Designed specifically for the New Zealand context, this training series addresses the concerns made by coroners' findings and is being recommended by counsellors all over the country as "must attend" workshops.

The training series is designed as a two workshop package but you can opt just to attend one. However because the content and process is designed with a continuum of learning across the two workshops, attendance at only one will likely mean a disjointed learning experience for you.


Experience from previous workshops that after attending the first workshop Risky Business: The art of assessing suicide risk and and imminent danger, most participants went on to enrol in the second workshop, Custodians of Hope: Supporting the suicidal person. Participants' evaluation strongly supported the attendance of both workshops stating it provided a well rounded training package.

Register for both workshops and receive a 20% discount on both registrations - a saving of $100


Click on location for Confident & Competent Training Series details & online registration


Risky Business: The art of assessing suicide risk and imminent danger

Undertaking a suicide risk assessment is not without its complexities. One size does not fit all. This advanced level workshop provides the opportunity for participants to depth their knowledge and competency in the “art” of assessing suicide risk and imminent danger through empathetic dialogue rather than a more traditional assessment interview process.


This advanced level workshop builds on foundational or gatekeeper suicide prevention training and provides the opportunity for participants to depth their critical analysis of suicide risk factors and reflect on their practice in assessing risk. The workshop investigates in detail the suicidal moment and interrupting the suicide thought with emphasis of moving from reacting to responding to the thought. The rationale and research that informs risk assessment items will be explored. This assists participants to more confidently and competently adapt the content and process of the assessment to best meet the context and the needs of the client, particularly in crisis situations.  It also facilitates greater depth of enquiry and does not constrain the practitioner to questions on the assessment sheet. It examines the elements essential for a good assessment: rapport; dialogue; confidence and competence


Participants will be introduced to the Conversation of Enquiry which is a series of mini conversations that is client-focused and where the conversation of distress is the primary focus of the enquiry rather than presence of risk factors.  This conversation model has been shown to be an effective process in enhancing engagement and eliciting the information required to make an informed assessment of suicide acuity. The conversation ends with a summative assessment task that focuses on nuance and subtlety; degree of reflective insight; wairua; despair to hope continuum; alienation to engagement continuum; reactive to responsive.

Evaluation of this training indicated that the content of this course is both relevant and applicable to the work of mental health and primary health clinicians; mental health support workers; counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice; school counsellors; frontline health, social service and community workers. Those without previous suicide prevention training would also benefit from attending this workshop.


Topics covered:

  • Overview of the phenomenon of suicide and the 'suicidal moment'

  • What is meant by suicide risk? - Predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating risk factors

  • The context of risk - understanding the suicide narrative and contextualising the suicidal thought or act

  • A holistic approach to assessment - taking into account physical, emotional, cultural, socio-economic, and spiritual factors or influencers

  • The art of suicide risk assessment: From assessment to conversation of enquiry

  • The Summative Risk

Recent coroners’ findings highlighted the need for workers in the health, social services and counselling or psychotherapy sectors to regularly update their knowledge and competency in suicide risk assessment and intervention. This training should be a core part of practitioner's ongoing professional development.

Advanced practitioners such as counsellors, psychotherapists and clinicians should not only be knowledgeable about suicide risk assessment but also highly competent in undertaking an assessment and assessing the level of risk. The training attended should match the worker's scope of practice. Those working in the non-mental health sectors should also be competent in making an informed referral to crisis or secondary mental health services.


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Feedback from other participants

“I have learnt more about risk assessment in this workshop than I have learnt from all the suicide prevention workshops I have attended combined”   


“Gave me new insights into something I do everyday”

Mental Health Clinician

"I feel much better equipped to provide support and supervision to my team members"

Mental Health NGO Team Leader

“Appreciated how you constantly drew upon the participants’ experience.  Will leave thinking / reflecting on my current practice”

School Counsellor

“A must attend for counsellors. A rich experience filled with practical examples and learning moments”         Counsellor

"I feel more reassured that our staff have both the knowledge and the competence to undertake a high quality assessment that is person-centred and appropriate for the numerous cultural communities that we work with."


Click on location for Risky Business workshop details & online registration


Custodians of Hope: Supporting the suicidal person


Identifying suicide risk is only one aspect of working with the suicidal person. The increasing demand on mental health services means that front line workers are often having to provide ongoing support for those assessed as not being in imminent danger of suicide.

Workshop participants will explore a range of engagement, support and safe containment outcomes for supporting the suicidal person post the risk assessment process. These outcomes can be applied to any counselling, psychotherapeutic or support model. 


The outcomes are grouped into:

Manaakitanga, Anchoring, Kōrero, Illumination, Interrupting the suicidal thought, Invitation to Live, Custodians of Hope, Restoring the Wairua, Strategies for coping


This workshop is of value for those working in counselling, psychotherapy or social support settings who have a good understanding of counselling and/or mental health support/ recovery principles and processes. While the workshop is focused primarily around non-mental health settings, the workshop content is also relevant to workers in mental health settings.

Topics covered

  • Legal obligations and implications - Duty of Care, Confidentiality, Privacy Act

  • Including whānau and significant others as part of the support team

  • Overview of the phenomenon of suicide and the 'suicidal moment'

  • The suicidal moment

  • Key principles in engaging and supporting the suicidal person

  • Custodian of hope outcomes

  • Coping planning vs safety planning

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The primary aim of supporting the suicidal person is to engender a sense of hope and inviting the person to live

A recent Coroner's finding has highlighted the need for counsellors in private practice, NGO mental health support organisations and front-line health and social services to be up to date in their competency and capability to engage with the suicidal client and to have good referral processes in place.

Feedback from other participants

"The easy to understand concepts and the model of support reduced my anxiety about working with a suicidal person. I leave far more confident and trusting of my skills to be an effective support”

AOD Counsellor

“Insightful, informative and passionate presentation along with your humour engaged me for the whole day.” 


“The many examples you shared from your work enhanced my learning and made the application of the model relevant to my work”

ACC Counsellor

“Your cultural sensitivity and drawing on Māori understandings of wellbeing made the workshop relevant to my practice.”    


Click on location for Custodian of Hope workshop details & online registration